St Ives seagull swoop 'freaked out' fall teen

Rescue Image copyright Chris Oates
Image caption An RNLI crew from St Ives and Porthmeor Beach lifeguards helped Joanna Rich to a helicopter

A teenager who fell from a harbour wall "freaked out" when a seagull tried to snatch her ice cream before plummeting 15ft (4.6m).

Joanna Rich, 18, was sitting on Smeaton's Pier in St Ives, Cornwall, on Tuesday afternoon when the gull swooped towards her.

Ms Rich, who was airlifted to hospital with back injuries, said she had no choice but to "move forward" to escape the attack.

She has since returned home to recover.

More on the rescue, plus more Devon and Cornwall news

Witnesses said they saw Ms Rich "go into a panic" before she fell from the wall.

"The only way I felt I could get away was to go forward, I didn't actually realise how high it was," she said.

Ms Rich said she was now recovering from injuries she suffered in the fall.

"I'm aching a lot but I'm absolutely fine," she said.

Image copyright Chris Allen
Image caption Joanna was sitting on Smeaton's Pier when the gull swooped

The RSPB has previously said tourists should not feed gulls, as it can train them to see humans as providing a food source.

Over time, it can make the birds more likely to attack unsuspecting beachgoers, the charity said.

Stephen Warman, former head of English Nature in Devon and Cornwall, said holiday towns could become a "haven" for seagulls.

"If people insist on feeding them in towns or make rubbish available by not using proper bin bags then they'll learn from that," he said.

"By far the best way is to restrict the availability of food by stopping people either dropping food or feeding them and managing rubbish better."

Image copyright Chris Oates
Image caption The teenager was airlifted to hospital with a suspected spinal injury

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